Kimino Yuusha - Staff Import Review  

My Generic Hero
by Michael Baker

Nintendo DS
20-40 Hours
+ Character interaction can be fun.
+ Music is well-suited for the genre.
+ In-game artwork is pretty.
- Story is kind of bland.
- Combo system is hit-or-miss.
- Character portraits are lacking in expression.
Click here for scoring definitions 

   So, Kimino Yuusha. I feel the need to begin with an apology here. Anyone who read my write-ups on this game in Japandemonium (Fall of 2008) probably has the wrong idea of what this game is like. I know I did. Whether it was because of hyperbole in Famitsu, errors in reading, or simply wishful thinking filling the holes in my understanding, there is a marked difference between what I thought this game would be, and what it really was. On that note, let's begin.

   Kimino Yuusha, aka "Your Hero," is a lighthearted, fluffy tale of a young sorceress, her friend the Hero, and a grab-bag assortment of allies as they travel the land trying to end the threat of the Demon Lord. There should be more to say about that, but there isn't. The basic story is about as cliché as can be, and the copious number of side-quests, while rounding out the humorous side of the game, do little to explain who the characters are or what they are thinking. Beyond the scenes in which they are introduced, the members of the party have little character development. Even so, there are plenty of examples of decent writing throughout, with some good plot twists near the end and random instances of comedy (such as the recurring gag of the main character losing arguments to a hand puppet). Still, the story is not filled out enough to support a good adventure in this day and age.

To be fair, there is one major plot twist that was well set up and a bit surprising, but given that the player has to get through 99% of the game in order to reach that point, it's a matter of too little, too late.

It's a boy! Really!

   Another problem that exists with the game's storytelling is the overuse of character portraits. While not necessarily a bad thing in itself, the portraits used in Kimino Yuusha are almost completely static, with only the facial expressions changing to show limited emotions. For conversation, they suffice, but this game uses them to show action as well, and that is where it fails. When one of the evil demon generals is defeated, and the hero leaps in and delivers the coup de grâce, a character portrait and a generic slashing image flashing across the screen do not cut it. Every major character and boss has a unique character sprite when they appear in dungeons, and the sprites are actually well done, but no effort is made to use them in any sort of storytelling manner.

   Combat in Kimino Yuusha is very simple and straightforward, with players either choosing a basic attack or a special skill each round. There is a limit to the number of skill scrolls each character may equip, but the number of skills per scroll varies. In battle, characters will sometimes link attacks for more damage, but it seems to be a bit hit or miss at times for the whole-party combos. Later in the game actual combo specials will become available, but it so heavily depends on attack linking that even when one knows the exact set and order of skills needed to set off a particular special attack it may take five or six attempts before success occurs. This is especially annoying for the four-person special attacks, when the first two party members link attacks and then the last two party members link attacks, with no apparent reason why the second and third characters didn't hook up as well.

The combat graphics are well done, if cutesy. The sprites are all well animated, and the special attack animations range from nice to impressive to hilarious. By the end of the game, however, the enemies begin to lack in variety as the same designs keep appearing over and over with only minor variations. Dungeon graphics are pretty bland, with cookie-cutter level construction and very simple puzzle setups.

All together now!

   If there was anything that really disappointed this reviewer about Kimino Yuusha, it was the state of the branching parts promised in Famitsu Weekly. In many chapters of the game, the player will have to make a choice between two paths of action. About the only thing this affects is which special splash page is shown, along with accompanying text written in a light novel style. The splash pages themselves are very nice, but they are surprisingly few and far between. Certainly the game's side-quests would have benefited from them, and that would give the player more reason to pursue them. In any case, the impression given in Japandemonium of Fall 2008 was dead wrong on the amount of choice and variety presented in this game, and I apologize again. In point of fact, Kimino Yuusha is about as linear as it gets. The game's individual chapters can be played through quickly, and they actually encourage this with a par system that rewards speedy players with better items or information on special combo skills.

Kitties and chickens.

   The music, on the other hand, is on the better side of decent. While there's nothing groundbreaking in the background score of Kimino Yuusha, at the least the player will not be left hating the music. Unfortunately, the voices are a matter of taste. There is a large deal of voice-acting in Kimino Yuusha, mostly in a cutesy, high-pitched tone that can grate on the ears after a while.

   Kimino Yuusha is a game that could only be called average, even at its high points. At its worst, the game varies between annoying and bland. I don't usually say something like this, but this game is one of the biggest let-downs I've ever experienced.

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